CONTROVERSY is surrounding the annual Arthur's Day event after it was condemned by doctors and celebrities.
Iconic acts Christy Moore and the Waterboys are set to release anti-Arthur's Day songs to discourage the event, which takes place tomorrow (Thursday). The marketing ploy that sees over 1,000 acts playing free gigs in 500 pubs and club venues across the country on the day has also been shot down by actor Gabriel Byrne and writer Marian Keyes.
Frank Murray, head of the Royal College of Physician's Ireland's policy group on alcohol, said on Monday: "With high rates of alcohol consumption and binge drinking, we don't need another reason to drink."
Alcohol is more affordable, acceptable and available than ever, according to liver disease specialist Dr Stephen Stewart.
"We need measures to address this epidemic. Where does Arthur's Day fit into all of this?" he asked.
However, Diageo have defended the Arthur's Day event, saying that it is bringing people into the pubs to listen to the live music on offer and is not forcing people to drink.
They have said that they are encouraging the venues to give out free water and food to further their responsible drinking awareness campaign, which is centred on Arthur's Day.
In a statement issued by Alcohol Action Ireland on Monday, they reveal that the tax collected by the government from alcohol sales is far outweighed by the cost of alcohol-related harm to the State each year.
"And those are just the economic costs - they don't take into account the three people dying each day from an alcohol-related illness in Ireland, the significant role that alcohol plays in half of all suicides or more than half of all cases of child neglect," said Suzanne Costello, CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland.